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China’s Out – The Rest of Asia Rushes to Claim Surplus Study Visas to Australia

  • Written by Ben Klatt, Skills Recognition International

Australia has long been one of the world’s top study destinations for international students and a student visa to Australia is highly sought over. Until recently, most of these visas (38.4% in 2020) were granted to Chinese students. So, what’s changed? How can you secure your student visa to Australia?

Australia has the third highest number of international students in the world, behind only the United Kingdom and the United States. It ranks consistently among the best in the world for providing quality education programs, student satisfaction, and overall global reputation. If you ask the students themselves, Australia continues to be a firm favourite because of its amazing weather and beaches, and its relative safety when compared to countries like the US. Who wouldn’t want to send their child to study there?

Well, apparently, China.

As of July 2023, 162,826 Chinese students were enrolled in universities around Australia out of a total of 710,000 international student enrolments. Given that public investment in Australia is among the lowest of the OECD, Australian universities have traditionally relied on the enormous revenue provided by international students, and especially Chinese students. Some universities were accused of suppressing any criticism of the Chinese government so that Chinese parents would keep sending their money to Australian universities.

After the trade war between Australia and China in 2021, relations between the two nations soured. The Chinese government has recently called on its citizens to choose to visit other countries for their study, and the fall in numbers this year seems to demonstrate that the Chinese people are listening. So, what happens next?

Australian universities are opening their doors to students from other nations – particularly those from India, Nepal, Colombia, the Philippines, and other south-east Asian nations. Australian universities are becoming less dependent on China, taking record numbers from these nations and others such as Brazil, Indonesia, Malysia, Japan, Hong Kong, and Sri Lanka. Indians studying in Australia has risen by a third, while the number of Chinese students has fallen to 33%.

2024 has also seen the introduction of new laws from the Australian Federal Government, increasing English Language requirements for student visas. These newer requirements mean that students will be better supported for learning and their employment outcomes will be improved. The test scores for the Student 500 Visa will increase from the IELTS or equivalent 5.5 to 6. These new laws are said to be a bid by the government to crack down on non-genuine visa applications, ensuring that students and graduates are working in jobs that better match their skill levels.

The list of requirements for this visa is extensive, and it’s important that you follow the requirements exactly. There are ways that you can fortify your application including providing evidence of English Language fluency and with a short online course that recognises your previous skills, work experience and education in your home country if you do it with an official Registered Training Organisation Australia.  Many universities in Australia will accept recognition of prior learning so you don’t have to repeat similar units, as well as shortening your study time.

About the author

Ben Klatt is the CEO of Skills Recognition International, a leading registered training organisation. Ben has 20 years of experience in management, training and human resources, and a strong focus on maintaining industry connections across the globe. Though Brisbane-based, SRI also has offices in Malaysia and Hong Kong. Ben’s work specialises in Recognition of Prior Learning, helping international students and job seekers get into their career of choice.


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